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News and Views '10/'11 #3
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject: News and Views '10/'11 #3 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘10/’11 Installment # 3

DANCE, DRIVE, REPEAT

Table of Contents:
1. Lindy Hopping and Music in Dayton Ohio and Surrounds
2. Brief Stop in Atlanta
3. Two Dances in Orlando
4. One Dance in Tampa
3. A Sign of the Ascendance of Lindy Hop? An Editorial
4. Errata
5. Jazz Radio in Florida
6. Coming Attractions

LINDY HOPPING IN DAYTON

It is not doing so well in Dayton; attendance and energy are down, but it would be presumptuous on my part to volunteer reasons for this, as we attended only two dances in Dayton.
There are four Lindy Hop groups in Dayton, two University LH clubs. One at Wright State U. and the other at the University of Dayton. Two other groups teach and put on dances, but no regular event seems to be a magnet for all the dancers in town.
We have seen this same unfortunate fragmented LH scene situation elsewhere, but most other cities with a Lindy Hop scene contain a considerably greater population than that found in the Dayton area, and which, can survive fractionation. I believe Dayton, sorely needs all its LHers to come together and actively recruit beginner dancers, and work to keep them enthused and improving. (Editor’s Note: No matter how well-meaning, there is nothing quite so unwelcome as unsolicited advice.)

MUSIC IN DAYTON AND SURROUNDS

It was not to Lindy Hop, nor was it jazz, but Rudy and I went to Dayton’s “Canal Street Tavern”* for a reunion gig by “The Hot Mud Family”, an Old Timey Country Music/Bluegrass quartet. This was also a sort of reunion for Rudy and I, as we saw them play at a dump in Dayton, circa 1978, and not since. Not long after 1978, the Hot Mud Family disbanded and most of the band fled Dayton, but it was a very successful band and Rudy’s favorite. Like swimming and bicycle riding, the ability to play music is never lost completely. The reunion iteration band was, if anything, even more entertaining, and almost as good musically. They are all intelligent, good-natured and witty people, and the snappy repartee from the bandstand was much more than just mildly funny. They packed the Canal Street Tavern all three reunion nights. Rudy got in some Appalachian clogging, and we did a little Collegiate Shag—County music folk appreciate dancing, and they don’t much care what you do as long as you look like you are enjoying it, and you stay on rhythm.

*The Canal Street Tavern is a dark beat-up ancient street-corner music joint in Dayton. It’s not a dance place and what little space there is to dance is on a grimy soft-wood floor which looks like it dates to pre-Biblical days. The music there is mostly Pop Rock, but we once saw, “The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies” play there. And dig this, Pops, the ex-lead-singer for “Spanky Jones” (nee, “Swing Session”), told us he once had a gig there. Not surprising, as Pops has been everywhere. He had to quit the road because of problems associated with internal hydrocephalus (brain swelling), but, last I heard, he is still above ground, and I sure do miss that delightful buzz in his voice and his impeccable swing phrasing.

I made my annual autumn pilgrimage to Cincinnati to hear the Blue Wisp Big Band, and they didn’t disappoint. This is a jazz big band cut from Basie/Herman/Capp Juggernaut cloth. No chick singers, very interesting charts, fine musicianship, fair to wonderful soloists, tight ensemble work befitting a band which is over 35 years of age, has retained its core of more than able professional jazz musicians, and is led by one of the swingingist big band drummers ever in John Von Ohlen. If you are ever close to Cincy, try any Wednesday night at 8:30 in the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, and I truly doubt you will be disappointed.

ONE DAY STAY IN ATLANTA

Fortunately, it was a Wednesday and we danced at the Graveyard Tavern (with an ancient Cadillac hearse permanently parked out front) to the regular Wed nite jazz quartet, “The Gravediggers” (a rollicking good old-timey pieanna player, bass, drums and the club owner on guitar and vocals). If you don’t enjoy dancing to this infectiously rhythmic band, you may have a problem. The medium sized softwood dance floor was fit for 8 or so pairs and danced really well. Wed. nite at the ‘yard attracts most of the best LHers in Atlanta. Music at 9, $5 jar-contribution for the band.

The Monday night “Hot Jam” is the other regular weekly LH event. FFI, Google “Atlanta GA, Lindy Hop”

TWO NIGHTS IN ORLANDO

The first night was at the regular, 9 year old, Fri. nite DJed gig at the University of Central Florida, and we were pleasantly surprised. The last time we were at this gig, it was mostly beginners and ECSwingers, but no more, there are now many very experienced friendly LHers there. They floor is oak parquet over concrete, but the surface is delightful. We really enjoyed the DJed music, all of which had rhythmic insistence. The sound system was good, but there was not quite enough light to suit me—I know I have the beginnings of cataracts but, really, am I going that blind?

The second night was at The Hideaway, a DJed 1st, 3rd and 5th Sat nite gig (the other two Saturdays are at Whirl and Twirl). The Hideaway advertises “modern Music” which is, if I am not mistaken, mostly Hip Hop, a music which has been popular in the USA for over 25 years—can you believe it? The tempos were fine for Lindy, but I suffered from an inability to do anything with, or disregard, all the extra musical rhythm accents, and, of course, I am unfamiliar with the music. As well, most of the selections lacked a coda but ended either abruptly, or faded. I don’t like it when I am denied the dessert after a nice Lindy dance meal. Furthermore, Hip Hop, recordings are long; well over the usual 3.5 minute recordings played for Lindy Hoppers. The floor was great, the music was loud with only one set of speakers near the DJ, and the light was too dim for my taste. However, the room was filled with high energy dancers (40 or so), and since this gig has been going since early summer, they have obviously found a faithful dancer-audience. Rudy loved the musical opportunity to become improvisational and inventive, and we both danced a lot with a very friendly group and had a good time.

ONE DANCE IN TAMPA.

We made the first of several visits to the regular Sunday night DJed dance at the Zendah Grotto. This is a well attended dance on a good big oak floor with a good sound system which attracts friendly dancers of several disciplines. Lindy Hop, WCS, ECS and Rockabilly (a sub-set of ECS). The DJ was Abdul Presume and I really enjoy his selections, most especially for the swing content in the music, and the variety, e.g., he played the best known recording from the “Squirrel Nut Zippers”, “The Suits are Picking up the Bills” I LUV IT!


ERRATA

I stand corrected. I wrote the names of a quartet of lovely lady instructors in the Cowtown Jamborama Corn Eating Contest—Make that a quintet, and can you believe this? I omitted Minnesota darling and favorite, Karen Turman. I will not easily live that down, and she has already called me out on my glaring omission.
Mea culpa! Karen

A SIGN OF THE ASCENDANCE OF LINDY HOP? AN EDITORIAL

And the old, weak and few shall be, again, young, strong and many.

The following below, in bold print, is from Kim Clever and David Frutos.

Calling all competitors! November25th-28th
We all have long wished we had more divisions at the US Open Swing Dance Championships. Well, they have extended the Olive Branch and it’s up to us to accept, and be sure they keep on including us. They have added for the first time ever a Balboa division, and Lindy Hop Jack and Jill division. Plus, Lindy Hop Showcase and Strictly. As for the Jack and Jill....if they get 20 couples – they will have a pre-lim and take the top 16 followers and leaders to finals. We will dance the finals in a tournament style – heads up competition. This should be very exciting. To give us slow to enroll Lindy Hoppers a chance to enter, they have extended the sign up date to October 20th. Please take advantage! We have a Lindy Hop room with our own DJ's too. I don't know who all is on the list for this, but I know David is one of them!

Kim Clever and David Frutos are two of my most favorite people in all of Lindy Hop, and I understand their enthusiasm for the U.S. Open, as they have been faithful and remarkably successful competitors at many U. S. Open Swing Dance Championships. The event is the longest running large competitive swing dance event in the U.S. From its inception, it has been held in California around Thanksgiving, but it has not been, as its name implies, a championship for all swing dances, but rather, primarily for West Coast Swing. The U.S. Open, to their credit, has held marginal competitions for Lindy Hop and other swing dances. This recent expansion of Lindy Hop competitive divisions may be welcome to some, but, in my opinion, it comes a little late and may well be freighted with an ulterior motive. In short, it may be a gift horse whose teeth we should not examine.
The rift between the brethren “swing” dances of West Coast Swing and Lindy Hop has been wide. The LHers largely believing that WCSers are unwelcoming and snooty, and the WCSers believing the LHers are the great sweaty unwashed who mostly don’t know how to dance well enough. There is a little truth in both of these stances, but not enough to support the mutual segregation. And then, there is the differences in music….but that is a subject for another forum.
LH has always been an add-on at the U.S. Open , and now that WCS is apparently over its popularity ascendance, its dancers are becoming….ahem!....a little older, (Look who’s talking), and U.S. Open attendance may be falling, Lindy Hop has now become more welcome? Look, LH already has a number of national and international level competitive events supported by a large world cadre of competitive dancers. I’m sorry, but this old elephant memory lacks enthusiasm for this, as I remember too well the Lindy Hop exclusion from, or marginalization at many WCS competitive events. To be fair, WCSers have not been welcomed at LH events, even though I think each dance can be instructive for the other, and I do note that Lindy has made a major move into Soul music—can you say we have gone half way to West Coast Swing in both music genre and tempo? But, alas, the oil and water still refuses to mix.
It would have been a big prestige boost and boon to Lindy Hop had the U.S. Open expanded LH competitive divisions at the time when Lindy Hop burst in popularity early in this century, both in the USA and around the world, but that didn’t happen. I think the U.S. Open has not been as open as they might have been. I think the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships was mis-named from the onset, and should have been correctly named, “The U.S. Open West Coast Swing Dance Championships”. I think the olive branch has been late in coming, and, while I hope it is not too late, I’m guessing, it has not been offered in good faith, but rather, as a self-serving effort for their own economic survival. I could be wrong about this, and I have been wrong in my opinions past, but my gut says “not this time.” However, opportunity seldom comes strings-free, and I will not dis any LHers who compete at the U.S. Open—more power to them, and any Lindy Hopper who fears close comparison with WCS, needs some re-education. Any Lindy Hopper with a residual inferiority complex needs to remember what Justin Zillman said, “I can dance to their music, but they can’t dance to mine.” The expanded LH presence at the U.S. Open and willingness to mix the dances may be a needed balm to help heal this unfortunate long-standing rift between American swing dance cousins.
For those who attend the U.S. Open, and have not heard DJ, David Frutos, he has a clever way of separating butts from chair seats.


JAZZ RADIO IN FLORIDA

The first thing I do when arriving in a new town is to scope the low end of the FM radio dial for a jazz station. Against all odds (only about 10% of Americans claim to be jazz fans), Jazz radio has survived in Florida, is doing well there, and seems to be getting more robust. In Orlando it is 89.9FM, in Tampa 89.7FM and in Miami 88.9FM. Check ‘em out if you get there.

All three stations are often playing quality jazz played by extraordinarily accomplished jazz musicians. Agreed, most jazz radio stations are publicly financed and, of those, many broadcast from colleges and universities. That being the case, those who primarily program music usually broadcast a variety of musics including varieties of jazz. What amazed me about the three stations in Florida is how much programming goes to straight-ahead jazz. For those who are unfamiliar with “straight-ahead”, it is Jazz using the post-WW-II jazz vocabulary, a music which sounds good and swings; “good”, in this context, means jazz of quality compositions played by expert musicians and it does not often offend human musical sensibility. A program I have found in several cities is “Late Night Jazz with Bob Parlucci” . He primarily plays the best of Bebop; he is very knowledgeable about the music and musicians. He never fails to give particulars about the recording; the compositon’s title composer and when done by a larger ensemble, the arranger. He always announces the record label and name of the CD, as well as the musicians who play or sing on the recording. I consider jazz singers to be musicians who happen to play that magnificent untuned instrument known as the human voice.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

1. One Night of Dance in Ft. Lauderdale
2. More Lindy Hopping in the Tampa and Orlando areas.
3. Dancing on a WW-II Liberty Ship to “Stompy Jones”

Allen Hall, Lindy Hopper—even though I mostly don’t dance anything like those who are doing the currently popular form of Lindy Hop.
October 26, 2010, in warm balmy Punta Gorda, Florida
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